How Reading Leads to Success for Entrepreneurs

Businesswoman reading at desk.

While many entrepreneurs will say they don’t have time to read, the best (and busiest) in the business put reading near the top of their heavily-stacked priority lists. After looking at the reasons why, maybe you’ll want to take a page out of their books too.

Most CEOs and executives read one book a week, which equates to four or five books a month. Even to avid readers, this may sound like a daunting task; however, it is truly achievable, and the benefits are certainly worth the costs.

Taking even just 45 minutes to an hour out of your day — during a lunch break, before bed, or during your commute — will help you power through a book a week. After a few months of that, it’ll become a habit and a skill.

The benefits of reading are truly endless, so here are 10 we’ve chosen for why this healthy habit can bolster the success of emerging entrepreneurs.

We also recommend checking out our list of the best startup books and book recommendations by startup founders!

1. More Know = More Dough

The top entrepreneurs have worked it out, and now it’s time for you to pick up on their worst-kept secret: it really pays off to be the one with the answers.

Ignoring the deeper emotional and cognitive impacts of reading, on a superficial level, well-read individuals make more money. A 2016 Pew Research report found “the affluent are twice as likely as the poor to read books.” There is a direct correlation between reading and wealth. Hence, reading books can quite literally pay off.

2. Learn From the Best, Become the Best

One of the greatest benefits of reading for entrepreneurs is that it facilitates unprecedented access into the minds of some of the world’s best entrepreneurs. It’s become almost status quo for industry moguls to print their success stories — including tips and tricks on how they did it.

In an ever more saturated entrepreneurial landscape, it would be foolish not to take advantage of these free masterclasses. Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead,” Stephen R. Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” and “The Black Swan” by Nassim Nicholas Taleb are all great places to start.

3. Better Reading Leads to Better Writing

It’s a fact: reading makes you a better writer. Roz Morris, an author and writing teacher, says, “Reading exposes us to other styles, other voices, other forms, and other genres of writing. Importantly, it exposes us to writing that’s better than our own and helps us to improve.”

It almost goes without saying that good writing skills come in handy when launching a business. Especially when you aren’t heavily staffed with marketers, advertisers, and PR people, having flexible writing skills are basically a necessity.

4. Relax, Go Do It!

It’s a fairly well-known fact, but that doesn’t mean people do it — reading is actually a massive stress reliever. Growing a company can be extremely stressful. And though it can oftentimes feel painful to pull yourself away, it’s important to take a break.

Reading is an efficient pastime outside of work because you can unwind without completely unplugging your brain. Even reading for just six minutes a day can reduce stress by 68%. It slows down the heart, relaxes the body, calms the mind, and improves overall health. If that can be done in about five minutes — imagine what an hour could do.

5. Reading Helps You Read Between the Lines

Unsurprisingly, reading increases reading comprehension. And reading comprehension helps you understand the hidden or implicit meaning behind words/phrasing.

The skill of reading between the lines definitely comes in handy when starting or running a business because you need to protect the best interests of your company from others who may be trying to take advantage of you. You need to be able to see things from multiple angles and understand that there is often a conversation going on beyond what’s being communicated.

6. This Healthy Habit Helps Other Healthy Habits

Healthy habits are like buses. There will be none, and then all of a sudden there are eight at one time. Once you get into the habit of reading each day and begin to see the benefits for yourself, it’s likely that you’ll begin exploring other pastimes that nourish your brain and body.

Reading has been proven to help people sleep, which can in turn increase the likelihood that people will exercise and eat healthy. Once you begin to take care of yourself, it’s usually a domino effect, and you’ll begin to adopt other habits into your life.

7. Cultural and Historical Knowledge

We often forget it, but there’s a lot that can be learned from those who came before. History truly does have a way of repeating itself, so wising up to history and culture can be a great way to move forward.

Specifically, biographies are a useful subgenre to tackle under the history umbrella because you can learn a lot from past industry leaders. Astronauts, politicians, entrepreneurs, activists — there are lessons you can learn about persistence, self-belief, and advocacy from all of them.

8. Reading Actually Makes You a Better Speaker

It’s quite obvious when you think about it, but reading can have a profound impact on how you speak. Other than shifting the flow of your conversations, this practice can drastically improve your vocabulary. Especially if you are exploring different authors and time periods, you’ll develop an expansive knowledge of words, old and new, that won’t just help you in Scrabble.

Pitching yourself and public speaking are two unavoidable components of entrepreneurship. As a result, having the words to explain what you’re doing and why could be the difference between making it or breaking it.

9. Reading Inspires You

One of the consequences of reading that holds the greatest value for entrepreneurs is the fact that reading genuinely inspires you. Whether it’s reading non-fiction about the lives of successful or impactful people, or immersing your mind in fictional universes you could’ve never thought of, reading truly stirs the imagination.

Reading improves creativity — and after all, isn’t creativity the key to success? It gives you the gift of another lens through which to view the world, and that’s what entrepreneurship is all about.

10. Increases Your Skill in an Area of Interest

To be an entrepreneur, not only do you have to identify a problem or hole in the market, but you have to figure out a way to create a product that meets a need and appeals to people. In doing so, you may have to find solutions to questions that have yet to be asked or answered. This requires a deep understanding of the industry you are entering, which can be facilitated through reading.

Ultimately, you want to be an expert in whatever it is you’re doing; that’s how you get people to trust you. Get a library card and check out some books before you get started. You’ll definitely learn something useful.

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